Clawson High senior Ariana Inez  makes a throw in a practice earlier this season. Inez is one of three seniors who played a prominent role in growing the program over the past four years.

Clawson High senior Ariana Inez makes a throw in a practice earlier this season. Inez is one of three seniors who played a prominent role in growing the program over the past four years.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Clawson High seniors help lead softball program to new heights

By: Jacob Herbert | Royal Oak Review | Published June 10, 2019

 Clawson freshman Charlie Verner attempts a bunt during a Division 2 district final June 3 against Macomb Lutheran North at Madison Heights Lamphere. The Trojans finished the season at 22-9 overall with an 11-1 record in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division.

Clawson freshman Charlie Verner attempts a bunt during a Division 2 district final June 3 against Macomb Lutheran North at Madison Heights Lamphere. The Trojans finished the season at 22-9 overall with an 11-1 record in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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CLAWSON — Clawson High’s softball run has come to an end. 

After leading for most of the game, the Trojans fell 20-5 to Macomb Lutheran North in a Division 2 district final June 3 at Madison Heights Lamphere.

“For the first five innings, we couldn’t have played any better,” coach Jim Sparks said. “You jump out 4-0 and make every play in the field, every aspect of the defense was just humming along. But unfortunately sometimes in sports, you just can’t maintain the performance. We went from being super confident in the first five innings, then some doubt crept in and we couldn’t recover.”

Despite the postseason exit, the Trojans were still able to accomplish a lot this season. The team won at least a share of its division for the third year in a row. This year, it was a tie with Clinton Township Clintondale for the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division title. Both teams finished 11-1 in league play.

Clawson went 22-9 overall. Sparks said he couldn’t remember the last time a Clawson softball team won that many games.

“I am very proud of what our team accomplished this year,” senior Megan Youngblood said. “This team is probably the closest I’ve had in my four years here, and that really helped us get to that point. We’re still very happy with what we ended with.”

The team’s three seniors — Youngblood, Madison Viers and Ariana Inez — all excelled in leadership, according to their coach, even showing up to practice mere hours after graduation to prepare for the district final game. 

The trio has been with the varsity program since their freshman year, when they only managed to win six games. In 2017, the win total grew to nine, then 12 in 2018 and now 22 in their final season.

“We improved a lot from my freshman year,” Viers said. “We went from barely being able to play three innings to beating the other team in three innings, and it’s our third league title. I think there’s a lot that we accomplished.”

One of the main facets behind the Trojans’ success was the closeness of the team. Inez praised her teammates for building a family-like atmosphere, adding that this year’s team was the best she’s had in terms of togetherness.

The tight-knit atmosphere transcended the team itself. Youngblood said community members flocked to the team’s district tournament games to show their support. 

Youngblood, Viers and Inez leave Clawson with the softball program in better shape that it was when they found it. That’s something that is not lost on their coach.

“There’s a lot of different senior classes here at Clawson that are champions and get their picture hung on the wall,” Sparks said. “But the three girls that we have now, I don’t think there’s a senior class in any sport that has led their teams from point A to point B and showed as much progress along the way.”

For the squad as a whole, Sparks saw something special. 

“Out of all the teams I’ve ever coached, this team was the perfect balance of being unified together and at the same time being ruthless and going out with the intention of beating every team we played,” Sparks said.

Call Sports Writer Jacob Herbert at (586) 498-1062. Follow Sports on Twitter @CandGSports.

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